Mary Corbin Sies

Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies

Mary Corbin Sies is an Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies, University of Maryland, College Park. She is the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the department and Co-Director (with Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson) of the Material Culture/Visual Culture Working Group, and (with Dr. Christina Hanhardt) of the Cultural Landscapes Working Group. She is also an affiliate faculty member of the Women’s Studies Department, the African American Studies Department, Program in Historic Preservation, the Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity, the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, and the Museum Scholarship and Material Culture Graduate Certificate Program.

Research interests. Professor Sies’s research and teaching interests span material culture studies, planning history, architectural history, urban/suburban history, historic preservation, and cultural and social history of the U.S. in the 19th and 20th centuries. She is an authority on American suburbs from 1850 to the present, particularly planned, exclusive suburbs and the material and cultural landscapes, values, and everyday lifeways established by their upper-middle class white residents. She theorizes and studies issues of race, gender, class, space, and the domestic built environment and processes of community-building. Professor Sies promotes advocacy and social justice in her scholarship and her teaching. She also maintains an active interest in issues of professionalization and graduate study; please visit her Academic Job Resources Page at unlockingacademia.wordpress.com.

Community-Engaged Scholarship. Since 2009, Professor Sies has collaborated with the Lakeland Community Heritage Project to guide community engaged scholarship focusing on the history of Lakeland, a historic African American suburb adjacent to the campus in College Park, MD. Part of this work involves coursework in which students help to document the history of Lakeland in primary sources, record oral histories, and work with community members to develop interpretations centered on Lakelanders’ experiences and voices. Part of it involves rethinking and transforming the theory and practice of historic preservation to comprehend both the tangible and intangible heritage of groups that have been marginalized or treated inequitably in the United States and to forge a preservation practice that centers social justice considerations. Professor Sies is the recipient with Isabelle Gournay of the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation of three grants from the Maryland Historical Trust to survey the Modern Movement in Maryland (MOMOMA); she and Professor Gournay have prepared a theme study, eighteen National Register nominations, and a virtual exhibition for modern vernacular landscapes and buildings, completed several oral histories, and anticipate writing a history of modern architecture in the Free State.

Research Areas

  • Urban/Suburban History
  • Everyday Life
  • Space and Place
  • Heritage and Preservation

Education

  • Ph.D. American Culture (University of Michigan)
  • A.M. American Culture (University of Michigan)
  • A.B. European History (Michigan State University)

Select Publications

  • “Greenbelt, Maryland: Beyond the Iconic Legacy” (with Isabelle Gournay), in Richard Longstreth, ed., Housing Washington: Two Centuries of Tradition and Innovation
  • “The Modern Movement in Maryland: research contexts, issues, and methodologies” (with Isabelle Gournay).  Forthcoming in Proceedings of the VIIIth International DOCOMOMO Conference, Import-Export: Postwar Modernism in an Expanding World, 1945-1975.
  • “Regenerating Scholarship on Race and the Built Environment.” in Proceedings, Reconceptualizing the History of the Built Environment in North America, Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University, http://www.fas.harvard.edu/%7Ecwc/builtenv/papers.html.  November 2005.
  • “North American Urban History: The Everyday Politics and Spatial Logics of Metropolitan Life,”  Urban History Review/Revue d’histoire XXXII (1), (Fall 2003): 27-41.
  • “Letting Our Guard Down: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in Planning History,” with Gail Dubrow, Journal of Planning History 1(3), (forthcoming September, 2002): 201-212.
  • “Using a Virtual Museum for Collaborative Teaching, Research, and Service.” With Jo Paoletti and Virginia Jenkins. Electronic Collaboration in the Humanities: Issues and Options. Ed. James A. Inman and Cheryl Reed. (forthcoming from Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.)
  • “North American Suburbs, 1880-1950: Cultural and Social Reconsiderations,” Journal of Urban History 27 (March 2001): 313-346.
  • “Moving Beyond Scholarly Orthodoxies in North American Suburban History,” Journal of Urban History 27 (March 2001): 355-361.
  • The American Suburban Ideal: A Cultural Strategy for Modern Middle-Class Living, 1877-1917. (In final revisions for Temple University Press)
  • Planning the American City Since 1900. Ed. Mary Corbin Sies and Christopher Silver. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001 (Second Printing).
  • Planning the Twentieth-Century American City. Ed Mary Corbin Sies and Christopher Silver. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.
  • “George W. Maher’s Planning and Architecture in Kenilworth, Illinois: An Inquiry into the Ideology of Arts and Crafts Design.” The Substance of Style: Perspectives on the American Arts and Crafts Movement. Ed. Bert Denker. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1996. 415-445.
  • “Toward a Performance Theory of the Suburban Ideal, 1877-1917.” Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture IV. Ed. Thomas Carter and Bernard Herman. Columbia, Mo: University of Missouri Press, 1991. 197-207.
  • “‘God’s Very Kingdom on the Earth’: The Design Program for the American Suburban Home, 1877-1917.” Modern Architecture in America: Visions and Revisions. Ed. Richard Guy Wilson and Sidney K. Robinson. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press, 1991. 2-31.
  • “The Domestic Mission of the Privileged American Suburban Homemaker, 1877-1917: A Reassessment.” Making the American Home: Middle Class Women and Domestic Material Culture, 1840-1940. Ed. Pat Browne and Marilyn Ferris Motz. Bowling Green, OH: The Popular Press, 1988. 192-209.
  • “The City Transformed: Nature, Technology, and the Suburban Ideal, 1877-1917.” Journal of Urban History 14 (November 1987). 81-111.
Mary Corbin Sies
Faculty Information
Campus Address
1328F Tawes Hall
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